Contamination could drive new Miami courthouse costs past $1.2B

Contamination could drive new Miami courthouse costs past $1.2B

Source:, July 11, 2019
by: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • A new federal and civil courthouse in downtown Miami is going to cost at least $1.2 billion, Miami Today reported, but that doesn’t include the costs of ridding the new site of arsenic or lease payments for the property.
  • The $1.2 billion of payments to the selected public-private partnership would be spread out over 30 years, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told county commissioners that other services would have to be cut to pay for the project, which would be built on an old railway yard owned by the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works, unless they raised taxes.
  • There are no estimates yet as to how much it will cost to remediate the new site’s groundwater and soil. Gimenez told the commission, however, that discussions with potential P3 groups have yielded ideas about how to cut costs.

Dive Insight:

The 91-year-old courthouse has become dilapidated and has developed areas where mold is rampant, forcing the county to incur significant maintenance costs to keep the doors open. This is not an uncommon story when it comes to public buildings, and Miami-Dade is not the only local government that has turned to P3s to solve similar problems.

The Plenary Group, along with Johnson Controls, Clark Construction and BAE Urban Economics, is part of the P3 group that is replacing the old Long Beach, California, civic center with a new complex that includes a city hall and high-rise buildings that will be used by the Port of Long Beach, as well as building a library, plaza, parking, solar power, residential units, retail and a hotel. The civic center is preparing for its grand opening this month.

The project is worth approximately $513 million, and the P3 financed it, taking the burden off the city to get voter approval to issue bonds or to come up with some other payment mechanism. City officials also said it would allow them to take advantage of private sector expertise and innovation.

The Prince George’s County school system in Maryland this year also announced its intention to use P3s to help tackle its $8.5 billion construction and maintenance backlog. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said using a P3 model — turning over financing, construction and maintenance to private companies — could save the county $180 million.

Using a P3 would also allow Prince George’s to build 18 schools in seven years. The county plans on investing $25 million to $30 million each year into school construction and believes schools will be built 14 years faster using a P3 and for 15% to 20% less than using traditional means.​

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